Introducing BeatMarker: a free Adobe Extension for editing to music
First, a Quick History Lesson
(Psst! If you don't want to learn some cool stuff, you can go grab BeatMarker directly by clicking here)
Timing your edits to a musical beat is one of the oldest editing techniques around. Similar to how a good sea shanty helped sailors synchronize their rowing strokes, a rhythmic beat was often used as the basis for early animation. It was super common throughout the 20th century:
Fast-forward over 100 years, and the idea of syncing video to music has influenced all kinds of media. You still see this ‘mickey-mousing’ effect in animation all over the internet, but as video editing became digitalized and easier, it’s also found in advertising, YouTube vlogs, music videos, movies, TV shows, sports broadcasts…
Despite its prevalence, the art of editing to the beat is still a laborious task. Not quite to the level of hand-drawn 1920s animation or manually cutting reels of film, we admit. But finicky enough to slow down your workflow.
Taking the time to go through each waveform on a Premiere Pro timeline, repeating the same cuts ad nauseum, having to re-do hours of work if it ends up being out-of-sync... As content creators ourselves, we experienced issues like these one-too-many times. The result?
Available right now for free, BeatMarker is an easy solution for editing your content to a musical beat. Simply add a track, and it highlights your song’s beats as clearly-identifiable markers. Right there on the timeline, all within Premiere Pro - no external software, no manual work.
You can then use these markers to edit in sync with your track, faster than ever before. Grab it now, and use it forever.
We’ve made a quick video to show you precisely how BeatMarker works. It only takes one example to get familiar with the tool, and it’s the best way to learn, so give it a watch:
The tool is free, so we recommend using this video like a tutorial, and mimicking the steps yourself within Premiere Pro! Grab it here.
Although the concept is simple - editing to the beat of music - it has a myriad of uses, all with hidden complexities. Here are some examples to kickstart your creativity:
Naturally, music videos often sync cuts or visual moments to the beats of the song they’re created for. Check out Man of War, by Radiohead:
It’s a great example. Not only because the song rocks, but also because it teaches a lesson in being reserved and patient.
Rarely do you want to edit footage with every single beat; that’s how BeatMarking becomes a gimmick, instead of a tool. Instead, use the marked beats as a guide, spreading your edits throughout the video as a whole. Colin Read’s Man of War video sometimes lets a clip roll over a beat or edits several in quick succession, in order to match the stressful and calming points throughout the cinematography.
No matter the length of a video, montage is a key editing technique to quickly portray a series of events or the passing of time. Here’s a relatively recent example from Netflix’s Mindhunter:
It uses a mix of on-and-off-beat cuts, with prominent edits (such as the sync at 30 seconds in) matching the highlights within the background track used. The result? A montage that perfectly encapsulates long workdays, tiring routines, and the inquisitive nature through which the protagonists are handling horrific crime. By marking a song with BeatMarker, you will have a greater sense of when to interlace your clips to create effects of similar impact!
Music is synonymous with a sporting event - crowd chants, live performances, dynamic videos. You’d be hard pressed to attend one without hearing some form of music, and edited media surrounding sports is always rife with catchy tunes and synchronized edits. Impact and showcase sports, like professional wrestling, are great for some BeatMarking inspiration (even if the song has aged a little bit):
Here, note each strike, throw, kick - they’re almost all in rhythm with the background track. This is something you have to mark musical beats to do in the editing room, otherwise the end result will be super unsatisfying. BeatMarking will provide you with a clear framework through which to slice and dice your video clips accordingly!
Syncing edits to music has been ever present in the YouTube VLOG sphere, reaching peak popularity when Casey Neistat was in full swing. Check out this video, 1 minute in:
I’m not sure if even our ERA Bundle could tackle that airplane background noise, but the synced music and edits right after are something BeatMarker can definitely help you with! By using a track with a double-kick drum on each beat, Neistat’s able to adjust the cuts ever-so-slightly, giving a positive (yet tiring) impression of the long journey he’s undertaking. Finding songs with fitting moments like that is important, but make sure the ones you’re using are royalty-free.
An extreme example:
This commercial revolves around the idea of the musical beat. Let’s get our film school caps on for a sec - we’ve got the mise-en-scène of the kids doing actions to the musical beat, and also edits happening on particular beats for extra effect. A doubly-whammy of BeatMarking like this is hard to pull off - it has to be taken into consideration from shooting right through to editing. The effect, however, can be memorable. And memorability is key in advertising.
Back when Suicide Squad was announced, the trailer quickly drummed up a level of excitement that far-outshadowed how naff the film ended up being. It synced edits to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, resulting in a trailer that many people found better than the movie itself:
It mixes slower edits to slower rhythms, as well as rapid-fire moments during the song’s more staccato crescendos. Love it or hate it, the way it uses beats is most definitely something to be inspired by - don’t commit to editing on every single one, but use the track itself to help guide where you make your cuts.
A quick way to bring photo albums to life, BeatMarking turns a simple image slideshow or photo presentation into something more. From family moments to corporate events, you may find yourself BeatMarking to add a sense of rhythm and tempo to the format. Checking out landscape or background channels like this can help inspire you:
With a free tool like BeatMarker, you have room to experiment. There’s no looming payment date, no free-trial period to constrain your creativity. Just a tool through which you can try new things, test ideas and optimize your time spent editing. Give it a go, today.